I've noticed in response to some of my recent posts about the Pujols contract situation that, while most fans seem to think the Cardinals should do whatever it takes to keep the best player in baseball, some think the team would be smarter to invest the $30 million per season it is expected to cost to sign him and apply it to several other players.
While I recognize that the Redbirds have financial limitations, there are a couple of problems I have with the spread the wealth theory.
1) There is no guarantee if the Cardinals don't sign Pujols that they'll spend the money on other players. Every time they shed high dollar players from the payroll fans lick their chops in expectation of having the amount of money that was purged from the payroll available for new players. And it seems like the team PR machine immediately kicks in with reports of why it doesn't have any money to spend.
2) It doesn't make as much sense to spend $30 million on players not named Albert Pujols because you won't get the same financial return for your buck. Even if the Cardinals were somehow better by adding three $10 million players or five $6 million players, they would be unlikely to see the same revenue stream come back to them. Pujols is the most popular player in the game. It's likely that more fans spend money specifically for the chance to see him play than any other individual player. And it's unlikely the three or four or five players the Birds got in return would sell as many ticket -- or jerseys -- as Pujols does.
In short, Albert pays for himself.
Even if the Cardinals stink, people will come to see Pujols hit .330 with 40 homers and 120 RBIs. If the Birds let Albert go, they HAVE TO win to keep the turnstiles spinning.
There will also be untold benefits for Pujols and the Cardinals if he plays his whole career in St. Louis and then retires here. Pujols would likely continue to sell tickets and memorabilia for the Cardinals for years to come. And he could cash in on his celebrity with a personal services contract to represent the team in much the same way that Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson do now.
For my money, the safe bet is for the Redbirds to invest their budget in Pujols.